Looking Back on my First Year as a Mom
On the 22nd of December, 2012, my little boy Benjamin turned one. We celebrated by giving him a cupcake, which he ate all of. My family showered him with presents, and he seemed to love it. But he didn’t know it was his birthday! He doesn’t even know what birthdays are, and won’t for a while. The milestone was a bigger deal to me than to him, because I made it through one year of mommying. It certainly hasn’t been an easy year!
I have been thinking back to one year ago, on the day he was born. Since he was past due, I was induced, so I showed up at the hospital at 11:00 am to have a baby, though I was not in labor. That evening at around 6:00 pm, he was born! We had decided to wait until the birth to find out the gender, so we were both surprised and excited to see that he was a little boy! He was really small and cute, not as red and squinchy as I had expected. We named him Benjamin Matthias.
The first night (we were still in the hospital) Benjamin didn’t want to sleep at all! Well, I take that back. As long as he was nursing, he would happily sleep-nurse (the unofficial term for using mommy as a pacifier). As soon as I tried to put him in his little bed, he would cry, so me and James didn’t get much sleep. The second night was similarly sleepless, and that next day we got to go home. I couldn’t bear leave him in his car seat in the back seat alone, so I rode in the back next to him.
The three weeks that followed were the hardest three weeks of my life. Benjamin continued to not want to sleep during the night. James and I took turns sleeping for two or three hours at a time while the other rocked Benjamin and sang to him and tried to get him to sleep. I was nursing Benjamin, but the way he was feeding caused terrible damage to my nipples, so my days were spent getting advice from all kinds of people and trying all kinds of remedies. It hurt a lot every time Benjamin ate, which was every two or three hours. At one point, I had an infection from nursing, so I was in bed with a fever and aches and pains, and had to take antibiotics. All this time I also was in pain from my delivery (I was using pain medication, but it didn’t eradicate all pain). Then, on top of all this, I would look down at my post-delivery body and wonder what on earth had happened to me. I used to be a skinny person with a flat stomach, and now my stomach looked horrible! At the time, I thought my old clothes would never fit me again.
I have descried the physical state I was in, but I don’t really know how to describe the emotional state. I loved Benjamin, but I wasn’t exactly experiencing a lot of joy! I was in pain in all kinds of ways, discouraged, and very sleep deprived. I didn’t understand why he wouldn’t sleep during the night, but seemed to sleep happily all day. I didn’t understand why this had to be so hard. I remember comparing being a new parent to my years at Rice, when even the hardest time of the hardest semester was easier than this. Everything seemed easier than this.
This was so hard because I was giving my very self for this baby. I was giving my time around the clock. I was giving all my energy. I was giving my own body for him. I had been giving my body for the past nine months, and though I had morning sickness and was extremely tired, it wasn’t as bad as this. Now, my body was broken.
But I was not dead. I thought about that a lot during those hard weeks. My body was broken for Benjamin, my own little tiny son, who had my DNA and was a member of my family. Jesus’ body was also broken. But, in his case, it was much worse. He endured the most painful torture, and ultimately the most painful death, and he did it all for my sake. (Not only my sake, but I was making it personal.) He died a death on the cross to give me life. Me, who was a stranger to him. I was not His own child, but He died so that I could become His child. He gave his body, His very life for my sake.
How much more, then, could I give myself for my own little child. I didn’t even have to actually die. Figuratively, I have laid down my life for him every day since his birth. I have fed him, clothed him, been up at all hours with him, changed countless diapers, moved countless objects out of his reach, comforted countless tears, carried him around to all kinds of places (he is not light!). I have given up a lot of my own freedoms to care for him.
Becoming a mom has brought me a deeper appreciation for Jesus dying for my sake. It has also given me a greater understanding of Hebrews 12:2, which says:
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and is sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Enduring the cross led to joy, because Jesus loves us so much. Caring for Benjamin certainly doesn’t even compare with the cross, but it has many challenges. Benjamin brings me a lot of joy, because he is so funny and cute and fun and unique and amazing. Even when he’s not those things, it is a joy to take care of him, because I love him so much. Happy birthday Benjamin!